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In the introduction to this entry, in order to avoid making a premature commitment to the picture theory, and in accordance with definitions given by psychologists such as McKellar (1957), Richardson (1969), and Finke (1989), mental imagery was characterizedas a form of experience (i.e., as ). However, this itself is far from unproblematic. Evidence for the occurrence ofany experience is necessarily subjective and introspective, and, because of this, those who have doubts about the validity of introspection as a scientific method, may well be led to question whether there is any place for a concept such as imagery within a truly scientific world view. J.B. Watson, the influential instigator of the Behaviorist movement that dominated scientific psychology (especially in the United States) for much of the 20th century, questioned the very existence of imagery for just these sorts of reasons (Watson, 1913a, 1913b, 1928 – see ; see also: Thomas, 1989, Berman & Lyons, 2007). Although few laterBehaviorist psychologists (or their philosophical allies) expressedthemselves on the matter in quite the strong and explicit termssometimes used by Watson, the era of Behaviorist psychology ischaracterized by a marked skepticism about imagery (if not itsexistence, at least its psychological importance) amongst bothpsychologists and philosophers. Imagery did not become widelydiscussed again among scientific psychologists (or philosophers ofpsychology) until around the end of the 1960s, when Behaviorism beganto be displaced by Cognitivism as the dominant psychologicalparadigm. Most informed contemporary discussions of imagery, amongstboth philosophers and psychologists, are still very much shaped bythis recent history of skepticism about imagery (oriconophobia, as it is sometimes called), and the subsequent reaction against it.

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30/03/2009 · Hypothesis/Thesis statement help please: Media and Body Image

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Clearly Pylyshyn objects, as many philosophers have before him, to the notion of inner mental pictures that are somehow called to mind and reperceived by the “mind's eye”. In his 1973 article he raised a number of objections to this notion, some of which have withstood criticism better than others, but the underlying worry was clearly that the inner-picture theory of imagery inevitably commits the homunculus fallacy: it implicitly relies on the assumption that there is a little man (or rather, something that is the functional equivalent of a full-fledged visual system, including eyes), or, at the very least, something with inexplicable mental powers, inside the head to reperceive, experience, and interpret the image. The broad functional architecture of Kosslyn's theory, in fact, closely parallels that of Descartes' account of imagery (see , and ), and, of course, Descartes notoriously relied upon aconscious homunculus, the immaterial soul, that is placed foreverbeyond the reach of natural science. Modern defenders of thepictorial/analog theory protest that they cannot have committed thehomunculus fallacy (let alone committed themselves to Cartesiandualism) because a computer model of the theory has been implemented,and they have outlined an account of how picture-likerepresentations, formed at an early stage of visual processing in thebrain, are subject to several more stages of neural processing beforethey give rise to visual knowledge and experience (Kosslyn, 1980,1994; Kosslyn, Thompson, & Ganis, 2002, 2006).

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Matters became so hotly contested during the 1970s that some participants, most notably Anderson (1978) and Palmer (1975b, 1978), came to the conclusion that the disagreement was quite impossible to resolve by the methods of scientific psychology, or perhaps at all. Indeed, Anderson (1978) offered a formal proof purporting to show that the two main contending theories are empirically equivalent. Anderson's arguments in particular aroused much interest at the time,and were themselves vigorously disputed (Hayes-Roth, 1979; Pylyshyn, 1979b; Cohen, 1996) and defended (Anderson, 1979). However, the main debate continued, and it is probably fair to say that most observers have come to the conclusion that the empirical equivalence claimed byAnderson is ultimately not particularly interesting or important. It can probably be regarded as just a special case of the well known Duhem-Quine underdetermination of theory by evidence: many philosophers of science hold that any theory can be made to fit any evidence provided one is allowed freely to supplement the theory with arbitrary (and perhaps ad hoc, complex, and implausible) auxiliary hypotheses, which is essentially what Anderson was doing. Nevertheless, the fact that such claims could be seriously proposed and discussed is testament to just how acrimonious and intractable this debate about imagery had come to seem at the time, and how important it was to those involved. The very possibility of a science of cognition seemed to be under threat.

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Far too many discussions of visual mental imagery fail to draw a clear distinction between the contention that people have quasi-visual experiences and the contention that such experiences areto be explained by the presence of representations, in the mind or brain, that are in some sense picture-like. This picturetheory (or pictorial theory) of imagery experience is deeply entrenched in our language and our folk psychology. The very word ‘image,’ after all, suggests a picture. However, although the majority of both laymen and experts probably continue toaccept some form of picture theory, many 20th century philosophers and psychologists, from a variety of theoretical traditions, have argued strongly against it, and, in several cases they have developedquite detailed alternative, non-pictorial accounts of the nature and causes of imagery experiences (e.g., Dunlap, 1914; Washburn, 1916; Sartre, 1940; Ryle, 1949; Shorter, 1952; Skinner, 1953, 1974; Dennett, 1969; Sarbin & Juhasz, 1970; Sarbin, 1972; Pylyshyn, 1973, 1978, 1981, 2002a, 2003a, 2005; Neisser, 1976; Hinton, 1979; Slezak, 1991, 1995; Thomas, 1999b, 2009). Others, it should be said, have developed and defended picture theory in sophisticated ways in the attempt to meet these critiques (e.g., Hannay, 1971; Kosslyn, 1980, 1983,1994; von Eckardt, 1988, 1993; Tye, 1988, 1991; Cohen, 1996). However, despite these developments, much philosophical and scientific discussion about imagery and the cognitive functions it may or may not serve continues to be based on the often unspoken (and even unexamined) assumption that, if there is mental imagery at all, it must consist in inner pictures.

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However, if it is not because they are picture-like, what is it that makes these mental representations mental images? Presumablythe idea is that a mental representation deserves to be called an image if it is of such a type that its presence to mind (i.e., its playing a role in some currently occurring cognitive process) can give rise to a quasi-perceptual experience of whatever is represented. But this move relies upon our already having a grasp of the experiential conception of imagery, which must, therefore, be more fundamental than the representational conception just outlined. Furthermore, to define imagery in the way that Block, Kosslyn etc. suggest, as first and foremost a form of representation (as explanans rather than explanandum), is to beg more basic and equally controversialquestions about the nature of the mind and the causes ofquasi-perceptual experiences. A number of scientists and philosophers,coming from a diverse range of disciplinary and theoreticalperspectives, do not accept that imagery experiences are caused by the presenceto mind of representational tokens (e.g.,Sartre, 1940; Ryle, 1949; Skinner, 1953, 1974; Sarbin, 1972; Thomas,1999b, 2009; O'Regan & Noë, 2001; Bartolomeo, 2002; Bennett &Hacker, 2003; Blain, 2006).

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Perhaps Wundt's most important German student was Oswald Külpe, who had for several years served as Wundt's assistant professor, but eventually left to set up his own laboratory in the philosophy department of Würzburg University. He and his students there developed a direct challenge to the prevalent imagery theory of thought. Under the influence of both Machian positivism and, later, the act psychology of Brentano and the phenomenology of Husserl, Külpe, like Titchener (whom he had helped train), rejected what he saw as Wundt's unnecessarily strict methodological restrictions onthe scope of empirical science, and encouraged his students to extendthe scope of the introspective method to the study of the “higher” processes of thought and reasoning (Danziger, 1979, 1980; Ash, 1998). In 1901, two of these students, Mayer and Orth, performed a word association experiment in which subjects were asked to report everything that had passed through their mind betweenhearing the stimulus word and giving the response. Note that it was normal practice, in this era of psychology, for experimental subjects, or observers as they were more often called, to bedrawn from among fellow researchers within the same laboratory, oftenincluding the supervising professor. Present day psychologists would,with good reason, suspect such subjects of being liable to produce results strongly biased by theoretical preconceptions (Orne, 1962; Intons-Peterson, 1983). Great pains are usually taken, today, to ensure that subjects in psychological experiments have no idea what hypothesis the experiment is supposed to be testing. In 1901 however,it was thought that experienced and knowledgeable observers were more likely to produce consistent and meaningful results than the psychologically untrained. In the case of the Meyer and Orth experiment, two amongst the four subjects were Meyer and Orth themselves. Nevertheless, they professed to be surprised by some of their findings. In particular: